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The NHL is basically screwing the Islanders with Ilya Sorokin

Why can’t we have nice things?

That’s a question New York Islanders fans have always asked themselves. First and foremost, it’s always been having their own arena. Well, it’s no longer an issue. Player decisions and the right people in charge? Yeah, they finally came, but it took years of mistakes to get there.

The latest though: the unfortunate situation with the organization’s prized goalie prospect, Ilya Sorokin.

Unless you’ve been out of the loop the past two months, you would know that Sorokin, 25, made his intentions clear about finally departing from his native Russia to begin his pro career in North America; the Islanders drafted Sorokin in the third round back in 2014, but has yet to play a game for the organization. Instead, he’s been tearing up in the KHL, setting records and stocking up tons of hardware.

In late April, it was reported that Sorokin had rejected an offer from his Russian club — CSKA Moscow — and intended to sign with the Isles when his contract expired on May 1st. May 1st came, Sorokin was not signed. A month and six days later, that still the case. Islanders g.m. Lou Lamoriello when asked about the situation before this weekend had no further update on Sorokin.

Once again, it feels like the Isles are back at square one with the highly-touted netminder — question marks have been raised again if he’ll ever make his way to Long Island — after a new report surfaced this week which said Sorokin is in early discussions with CSKA about a one-year deal.

You can thank the NHL for whether or not the possibility above does in fact happen.

The NHL for a long time had a rule in the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) that teams could be allowed to sign European or college players they’ve drafted once their respective seasons were finished. But after the coronavirus pandemic turned the entire world upside down — the NHL was forced to suspend its season back on March 12th — the league itself made the decision to not allow that rule to stay in effect, rendering those players not eligible until the start of next season.

It’s a totally unnecessary rule if you think about it. And the Islanders aren’t the only team being jerked around either.

The Minnesota Wild have been fighting tooth and nail for the NHL to go back to the original rule so they can have their prized prospect, forward Kirill Kaprizov, on their roster when they begin their qualifying matchup later this summer against the Vancouver Canucks. Montreal is in the same boat with 20-year-old defenseman Alexander Romanov.

I mean, how much longer are Isles fans going to have to wait to finally catch a break? Sorokin has long been tabbed as the future in between the pipes for the franchise and he was well on his way here even with the craziness the pandemic brought.

The NHL needs to do the right thing and retract its decision. All the teams — who are in the same odd position as the Islanders  — would benefit wholeheartedly. Remember, these aren’t just draft picks. No, these players who are stuck, are potential franchise pieces moving forward.

Tomorrow, the Islanders will be back at Northwell Health Ice Center as they begin Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan. They will most likely also have two of their three possible goaltenders  — Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss — the league will allow a team to carry once the playoffs get going sometime in early August. But Sorokin, he won’t be there.

Nope, he will stay in limbo while the NHLPA tries to get something done so he won’t have to wait until the 2020-21 campaign to sign a contract.

And it’s a shame, because the Islanders deserve better after they’ve always been on the short end of the stick.

Hopefully things do change and Sorokin is the game-changer everyone expects him to be.



About Rob Taub

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